​MSP strives for maximum automation: “Centix has become indispensable to maintain the overview”

MSP Onions is the first onion processing company to do everything digitally, says Willem Meulmeester of the technical service. Many companies – including collaborating parties – still register on paper. “We have everything digital. Also the maintenance.” Because the onion factory runs almost continuously (in shifts between 4 a.m. and 11 p.m.), when planning maintenance MSP Onions also is required to take into account the fluctuating supply and demand.

“The machines can’t always be turned off,” says Willem. “Last week there was less sales and the warehouse was full. Then we stopped the sorter. During this ‘down time’ it is important we plan the people who can do the maintenance on the sorting machine, because after that the machine will run non-stop for another three weeks. Our core business is selling onions. Onions are a natural product. It is not known in advance how much will come in.” On average, MSP Onions sorts and packs 1.000 ton a day in the new factory with a team, existing of aproximately six people. In the old factory, where automation has not yet been implemented, 35 people work on processing 1500 tons per week.


When processing the onions, MSP Onions must meet the strict food safety standards of BRC food certification. According to the Head of Technical Services, the fact that all registrations in Centix are digitized, contributes to making it easier for them to demonstrate that they meet those standards. That goes a long way according to Willem. “Centix has become indispensable to us. The fact that the registration of our entire maintenance is now in Centix, including all FDA certificates, saves us so much work. For BRC we also have to register the calibrations of the scales, the brooms have to be cleaned every six months. There is also a glass frame, which we periodically check. Also the windows and displays needs to be checked regularily, so that we can ensure no sharp parts can reach the food. All these check-ups and maintenance, we tick off digitally in Centix.”

Willem Meulmeester - "You could say that with Centix we went from not registering anything to preventive maintenance. This is how we ensure continuity."


“The registered objects also include machine manuals and technical drawings. If an operator then sees which part he needs to replace on a machine, he can indicate this on the Centix service form. Then they scan the QR code on the machine and the object detail is opened. He can then indicate which part has been replaced or needs to be replaced. This saves us time on research and is way more efficient.” Minor repairs are done by the operators themselves. Major maintenance is scheduled in Centix. “Everything has to be faster and more efficient these days,” says Willem. “The salespeople sell onions, assuming that everything is up and running. If one part of the operation isn’t, we need to adjust on volumes. 30 full trucks enter at the front each day, 30 cars with sorted onions exit at the back. If you have a factory like ours downtime costs money. Because we aim for continuity and preventive maintenance. You could say that with Centix we have gone from not registering anything to preventive maintenance. This is how we ensure continuity.”


“Our goal with Centix was to be able to work more efficiently and faster,” says Willem. “Now we want to take this one step further. At MSP Onions, the management also has access to Centix. The next step I wish to achieve, is that we can make even better use of the data from Centix. So, the management can ultimately make decisions based on this data from Centix. If I could display it in a dashboard-like setting, that would be great.” This also applies to preventive maintenance, he believes. “At a certain point it is easier estimate the lifespan of machine and/or installation parts. If parts are worn, we can see how long those parts have been in use. If this appears not to be long enough, we may decide to try another manufacturer. This is information we need. Even down to the detail. We want to know exactly that we have to replace a e.g. a cylinder after so many million movements.”

Maximum automation

The objectives with Centix are continuously adjusted. As Willem is concerned, it cannot go far enough when it comes to automation. “We strive for maximum automation. Then it is important that we keep up with maintenance. Also to keep the maintenance intervals as short as possible to guarantee continuity.”


More information: Visit the website of MSP Onions. 

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